Brad Pitt wanders on the wrong side of the law when "Killing Them Softly" opens wide this weekend. Pitt plays Jackie Cogan, a mafia fixer forced to dole out tough justice after a mob-sponsored card game gets swindled. Unfortunately, Cogan's repairs are complicated by a host of unmanageable mobsters played by some big-time acting heavyweights, including James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Sam Shepard, and Richard Jenkins. We all know Pitt will keep his cool regardless, but here are Five Facts about "Killing Them Softly" you might not know.
For the Ladies
1. Though Pitt is obviously appealing to the female masses, "Killing Them Softly" isn't exactly one for the ladies. In fact, there's only one minor female speaking part in the entire movie, and she isn't even given a name, but credited merely as Hooker. Writer-director-editor Andrew Dominik recently explained why: "I think any movie that deals with violence in some way is also dealing with masculinity. If I could've done it completely without women, I would have." We'll have to wait and see if such hyper-masculinity attracts female fans, but at least one woman enjoyed it: Angelina Jolie, Pitt's uber-famous fiance. "She actually likes the film," Pitt told Nightline. "She's a tough audience and she likes this one a lot. I didn't really ask her why, I just took that and…" "…And ran," said Gandolfini, finishing his co-star's sentence.
2. This is Pitt's second film with Dominik, their first being "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007), a methodic Western that was critically praised but dismally attended, grossing just $3.9 million on an estimated budget of $30 million. "Killing Them Softly" also happens to be Dominik's first film since that box office bomb. "You know, it's still labeled a loser. In fact, Dominik couldn't get a job for several years afterward because it got labeled that way after the opening weekend. But then we always knew, 'That one's a fine-wine film. It's gonna age well,' Pitt told Interview magazine.
Stand By Your Man
3. Obviously Pitt believes in Dominik because, according to Pitt's interview with Extra, the A-lister agreed to produce and star in "Killing Them Softly" within an hour of hearing the initial pitch. "He texted me that he had a story idea, we sat down on the patio, and [Dominik] laid it out in 30 minutes. He said, 'You have to say yes… today.'" So Pitt said yes. Since then, Pitt's Plan B production company also decided to finance Dominik's "Blonde," a Marilyn Monroe biopic starring Naomi Watts, scheduled to begin shooting in January, 2013. You can get a sense of how well Pitt and Dominik work together in the trailer above.
[Related: Indie Roundup -- 'Killing Them Softly']
Strong-Arming Tony Soprano
4. Gandolfini originally turned down the part of aging mobster Mickey, as he's already affixed in pop culture's collective conscience as another mobster: Tony Soprano from the long-running, award-winning HBO series, "The Sopranos" (1999). Apparently though, Dominik used some strong-arm tactics to convince Gandolfini. "I think he said, 'Shut up. You're the guy to do this. And you're going to do it.' And so after the 900th time he said that, I was like, 'OK, I'll do it. Just leave me alone.' And I loved the dialogue, but [Mickey] is a disgusting human being. I did some pretty disgusting stuff during "The Sopranos" and I was hesitant to step back into those shoes," Gandolfini told the Wall Street Journal. You can tell Dominik's instincts were right in the clip above.
Taking a Beating
5. "Killing Them Softly" also features another actor who has played one of pop culture's most memorable mobsters: Ray Liotta. Though he's played an inordinate number of tough guys, 22 years after Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" (1990), Liotta is still best remembered as the manic and macho Henry Hill. For this film, Liotta plays against type, as the guy that takes a beating instead of the one doling it out. To make his beating look believable, Liotta was determined to do his own stunts. "Like I said, before I would always give the punch, but it's a whole other thing to take the punch," said Liotta. "Stunts taught me how to do that. I was determined to do every bit of it, and in a grueling way it was fun. It was so nice receiving it rather than giving."
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